Intangibles I Take on the Journey

The first thing I placed into my backpack is my family.  My family is very close-knit, so I don’t know what I would be doing today if I didn’t have their support.  I wouldn’t have had the courage to change my major and pursue the career that I love if it weren’t for the long hours my parents spent with me talking about my options.  I will always be grateful for the patience they have shown me since I can be a an extremely stubborn person at times.  My siblings and I are close as well, and I hope we remain close as we continue our separate ways through life.  I’ve lived with my twin sister my entire life, and she’s my best friend, so it’s comforting knowing that there is always going to be someone I can talk too when times get rough.  The second item in my backpack is my faith.  I have been religious my entire life, and I find that my faith helps me to remain calm and not stress out too much.  It also helps me to relax when my life gets a little hectic.  My faith will definitely continue to be a large influence in my life, no matter where my life leads me.  Soccer is the next item that I would bring with me on a journey.  I have played soccer for about 16 years, so it is a huge part of my life.  Soccer has taught me some very important skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and confidence, that will be useful in all aspects of life.  Soccer has also taught me the importance of exercise as a way to stay healthy, as well as a way to relieve anger and stress.  Soccer has a way of making me forget about everything for a few hours, which makes it very relaxing and fun.  My dog Dozer represents my love for animals.  I’ve always loved animals and have been interested in them and the way they live, but it wasn’t until last semester that I decided to switch my major to Animal Science.  Once I made the switch, I realized that I wanted to work with animals, in some way or another, as my career.  I’m not sure yet what I want to do, but I know it’s going to be heavily influenced by animals, whether it’s research or hands-on care.  The final item in my backpack is something I gained from this English 2000 class.  With all of the research I have done throughout the semester for the various essays, I have found that I have become much more open-minded.  I used to be very one-sided in my arguments and thought that there was either a right or a wrong to every situation.  Now, I know that there is a ton of gray area in the world that I’m finally starting to acknowledge.  Having an open mind is definitely something I will need on the journey through my life.

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Intangibles in my backpack for my journey.  
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Big Hits Make Big Profits

Professional football players are expected, and paid, to deliver excruciatingly hard blows to their opponents since it is the nature of their livelihood. Would they still be willing to put their bodies in harms way if they fully understood what these hits could mean for their health? In the 2015 sports biopic Concussion, Dr. Bennet Omalu discovers a degenerative brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. He uses the brain tissue of late professional football players to show the link between the disease and repeated blows to the head. The film also shows the NFL’s initial resistance to Omalu’s research. Once the research became more accessible to the public, the NFL had no choice but to take action and support the fight for advanced player safety. Although the film is primarily about Omalu’s discovery of CTE and his fight for validation, Concussion does a poor job at fully displaying the NFL’s side of the story.

In recent years, the NFL has put in place some new concussion protocols in order to prevent the injury from occurring unnecessarily. In 2013, the NFL implemented the “Crown-of-the-Helmet” rule (Timeline: the NFL’s Concussion Crisis). This rule is designed to penalize a player who “intentionally initiates contact with another player using the top of his helmet”(Hanson). Depending on the severity of the hit, the player can either be slammed with a 15-yard penalty or be ejected from the game entirely. This rule is quite effective since it forces the players to keep their heads up while making the tackle, thus greatly reducing the likelihood of a severe head or neck injury. This rule also raises awareness for the importance of education within the sport at younger ages. Enforcing proper tackling techniques at a young age allows kids to grow up in the sport knowing that they should not be leading into a tackle with their head. The Crown-of-the-Helmet rule should ideally prevent numerous concussion and spinal cord injuries from occurring, which will ultimately reduce the chance that these future players will suffer from CTE. With this one rule change, the NFL has completely altered the play of the game, but its benefits most certainly outweigh the costs since this rule is also proving to protect the future generations of professional athletes.

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Dunta Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons and DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Robinson hit Jackson with such force, both were sent out of the game due to injury (October 2010).

Matters of the Heart

“Civil Disobedience” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written by Henry David Thoreau(1849)and Martin Luther King Jr., respectively, delve into the injustices brought upon their society by the government.  Thoreau has massive disdain for “the State” since it is one that has not yet abolished slavery , while King is hopeful and optimistic in a future where people of all races can live together in harmony.  Both of these men use all three appeals to argument (logos, ethos, pathos) to strengthen their essays.  Both Thoreau and King use an equal, yet weighty, amount of logos and ethos to improve their arguments, but King has a stronger use of pathos, or emotional appeal.  In times of inequality and injustice, passion and emotion seem to be the only things that can drive people to make a change.  This realization makes King’s use of pathos have a much stronger effect on the audience than the appeals that Thoreau uses.  It is for this reason that King has the stronger argument, overall.

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Martin Luther King Jr., author of “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

Satire as Effective Argument

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Harry Golden sitting at his desk.

Satire is generally known as the use of humor, irony or exaggeration to expose the corruption or foolishness of an individual or corporation.  In most cases, the writer’s ethical appeal (reader’s judgement of the writer’s character) is directly affected by the writer’s use of satire.  In the essay “Left-Handers (Those Sickos) Got No Reason to Live!”, writer Roger Guffey’s use of hurtful and condescending language greatly affects his ethical appeal.  When he says words like “despicable,” “unnatural,” “filthy,” and “degenerate,” he is proving to the audience that he is anything but concerned, fair-minded and knowledgeable.  His words are offensive to the LGBT community and left-handers and are extremely unnecessary.  His language completely discredits his ethical appeal, causing the audience to disregard his entire essay.  On the other hand, Harry Golden’s essay, “The Vertical Negro Plan”, is very well-written and contains positive ethical appeal.  Golden starts off the essay by referring to a few amendments that were passed by the legislature.  This immediately lets the audience know that Golden is well-informed on the topic.  Golden also refrains from using the same harsh language that litters Guffey’s essay.  Instead, Golden remains polite and respectful towards his opponents while also offering up some interesting alternatives to help solve the problem of segregation, specifically in public schools and other public places.  The combination of his concerned tone, relatively neutral language and outrageously clever suggestions for a solution allow the readers to trust Golden’s character as a writer, making his use of satire extremely effective.

Movie Review: Concussion

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A movie poster for Concussion (2015).  Will Smith is shown here since he plays the lead role of Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Concussion is a 2015 movie that discusses the mental and physical health problems associated with concussions.  Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith, is a forensic pathologist who performs an autopsy on former football player Mike Webster.  Webster suffered a heart attack, but upon further examination, Omalu found that Webster’s brain had a significant amount of damage to it.  He realized that this level of damage and deterioration could only be the result of repeated blows to the head.  Omalu called this ailment chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and he discovered that many other football players passed away with the same condition.  Omalu tries to bring his results to the NFL for consideration, but they deny all of his attempts to make this information public.  Three years later, the NFL finally decides that it is best to inform the players of what they are getting themselves into and that they understand the risks of CTE.  Are concussions going to be the end of American football as we know it?  And does the NFL have the players’ best interests in mind when it comes to their physical and mental well-being?

I have played soccer for most of my life, so I understand the impact concussions can have on someone’s athletic career.  I know many girls personally who were forced to stop playing because they suffered from too many concussions.  I also enjoy watching football quite a bit, so I am curious to see how the NFL plans to make adjustments to the game in order to make it less violent.

I know the symptoms of concussions as well as how long the recovery time usually is.  I’ve also noticed that concern for players’ safety in all sports has increased a lot over the past few years.  For example, some high schools are requiring all of their soccer players to wear concussion helmets in order to alleviate some of the effects of hard hits to the head.  In the years prior, nobody ever gave concussions much thought, except for the fact that they gave you a nasty headache.

I think that once Dr. Omalu presented his theory of CTE, society just decided that this must be the only answer.  I would like to see more intensive, and perhaps invasive, research being performed to see if hard hits during the game are actually causing a majority of the damage to the brain.  I also want to learn about some of the steps the NFL is taking to reduce the risk of brain injuries to the players, all the while maintaining the integrity of America’s most beloved sport.

“The Latest From the Feminist Front” By: Rush Limbaugh

I am arguing against Rush Limbaugh’s belief that feminism and feminist leaders are anti-male and that their sole purpose is to misconstrue men’s advances as harassment, thus making it more difficult for men to pursue and court women.  Since the definition of feminism pertains to advocating for women’s rights in an effort to gain equality among the sexes, I strongly disagree with Limbaugh’s belief of their motives.  Even though Limbaugh uses one example towards the end, the large amount of his personal opinions on the topic does not do much to help solidify his argument.

Limbaugh starts off the essay by stating that his opinion on feminism is one of the most controversial topics of his “Thirty-Five Undeniable Truths of Life.”  He goes on to mention that his opinion is the truth and that the truth must be heard, despite the amount of backlash it received.  He then creates his own definition of modern feminism and their leaders, and then he gives a few examples of how modern feminism is going to lead to “several serious problems,” such as men becoming afraid of making advances.  Afterwards, he explains how feminists are trying to “blur the distinctions” between rape and other seemingly harmless behaviors and depart from the age-old tradition of courting.  Then, he illustrates how feminism is creating a conflicting relationship between men and women rather than a healthy one.  Finally, he rounds out the essay by giving a real life example of how feminism is hurting rather than helping, and questions Monique Long’s course of action when she accused two of her co-workers of sexual harassment.

While reading the essay, I ran across many statements that I questioned, but only one seemed to stick out in particular.  During the essay, Limbaugh accuses feminists of wanting to criminalize courting and asks, ” Would these women prefer men as husbands, or leaders of marauding gangs? That is basically the choice.”  I believe that this is an either-or fallacy since Limbaugh only gives two options of what men can decide to be when there are very many options that lie in between.  I also feel as though Limbaugh is actually insulting men here since he seems to be saying that men are unable to control their “normal masculinity and aggressive nature.”  He claims that taking away dating would give men no other outlet to display their masculinity, so they must turn to gangs as their last hope, which is simply not true.

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A man and woman with an equal sign connecting them, depicting equality among them.

My Argument Style

The last real argument I had was quite a while ago.  I had told my parents that I had been wanting to get a tattoo for quite some time, but I wasn’t quite sure what to get.  I had just wanted their opinion, but they decided it was necessary to explain to me why getting a tattoo was a terrible decision.  They felt that tattoos were unsightly, unnecessary things that only existed to prevent me from getting a decent job.  Once I discovered their views on the matter, I set my sights on reassuring them that getting a tattoo was not going to be the end of the world.  I explained how I would get it on my back so it wouldn’t be distracting in the workplace and how I planned on saving up in order to get one of the highest quality.  I also told them what I wanted to get (a line from one of my favorite songs) and how much it meant to me.  In the end, they didn’t completely agree with the idea, but they were much more comfortable with it since I had a concrete plan and wasn’t going in blindly.  My tactic of reassuring them with my plans seemed to do the trick.

This argument was not very typical for me.  In my opinion, it was the first real adult argument I had had with my parents.  With most of my arguments, I typically use logic and facts rather than emotion in order to sway the other party to my side. Over the years, I have learned that patience and respect for another person’s perspective are extremely important when it comes to reaching a conclusion.  Since I have made changes to my argument style while still remaining logic-based, I believe that I have a mixed style of argument.

I believe my life at home growing up heavily influenced my argument style.  I have an older brother and a twin sister, so I believe that fighting was more common around our house than actual arguing.  I have a pretty good memory, so I would use that to my advantage and recall some outrageous detail that occurred months ago that would somehow help me win an argument.  I played tons of sports growing up as well, so that could have fueled my competitive side and made me want to win any and all arguments that I encountered.

Growing up, my parents always told me that I should become a lawyer because I could argue with a tree stump.  I always took that as a compliment when I was younger, but I now realize that that is not the best characteristic to have.  I like how I use logic when arguing because it fits well with my style of thinking, but I would like to become more patient and tolerant of other’s opinions in order to reach an agreement rather than trying to win.

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My twin sister, Emily, and I on Christmas Eve 2016.